Home Food + DrinkCoffee Cryo Cream Jersey City: A Chat with Owner Matt Marotto

Cryo Cream Jersey City: A Chat with Owner Matt Marotto

by Diana Cooper
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Ever since Cryo Cream opened its doors in July 2019, it has been a hotspot in Jersey City for locals and fans of the owner Matt Marotto’s who put the shop on the map from his appearances on Food Network. Located at 413 Monmouth Street, Cryo Cream serves liquid nitrogen ice cream, sundaes, coffee, pastries, and now breakfast items all of which are quite extraordinary. Read on for Hoboken Girl’s interview with Matt Marotto to learn how the liquid nitrogen concept came about, why Cryo Cream has become so popular, and what it is like filming reality competition TV shows. 

matt maratto cryo cream jersey city

{Photo credit: @matt_marotto}

Hoboken Girl: First off, congratulations on making it to the end of this past season of Food Network’s Holiday Wars. You must have been under a lot of pressure to take home the prize. Would you agree?

Matt Marotto: Oh yeah, 100 percent. You’re in a different world that kind of world you’re in when it’s all about the show the whole time, you get wrapped up pretty quick. I mean probably more than life and death to anybody who’s on that show. When you’re in it, you’re in it. Especially when you’re competitive. I was a swimmer my whole life so I had that competitiveness like I have to go after it. [Producers] amp that up. When you have a hype man telling you how important it is – “it’s $25,000” and “you have to get it done in this amount of time”, yeah you get so wrapped in it. I got all the way to the end [and then] the final episode my team lost. We were very upset about the result. 

HG: Are there any behind the scenes secrets you can share from filming?

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MM: With Covid, everybody was quarantined separately so we couldn’t even see our teammates. We had to talk through the doors of our hotel rooms which was pretty crazy. [There’s] somebody that follows you around all the time like “chef’s walking” when you go to the bathroom or your hotel room. We had to wear masks the whole time, but when we were filming, we take them off but everyone else has them on and we’re all tested and [everyone else is] all wearing shields, masks, goggles, which is also hard because you’re trying to read a producer. They’re there to remind you of everything at the moment. There are checkmarks you have to hit so they can get the shot that they need. 

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HG: How did you land a spot on Holiday Wars?

MM: I had started when I was a lot younger. I did one when I was like 20 that was Sweet Genius {that was on air for three seasons from 2011 to 2013}. I made a fool out of myself on TV the first time. It was a lot of fun. Then I did Holiday Baking Championship {in winter 2016}. I got all the way to the finals in that. I came up just a little too short to my friend Jason Smith who now has. God knows how many TV shows. [After that] I was on Girl Scout Cookie Championship {in February 2020} and that was filmed on Newark Avenue in front of Barcade in Jersey City. I made it to the finals and lost. I think because I never win, they keep wanting me to come back which is good but it’s frustrating – I’m not going to lie. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. 

cryo cream ice cream sundae

{Photo credit: @cryocream}

HG: How did Cryo Cream come about and why did you choose Jersey City?

MM: Because of the shows [I was on] and I got all the way to the end, I was able to do bigger parties and private catering. People booked me and I showed up like a magician. In two hours I make everyone ice cream and it’s a whole cool thing. I did tons of weddings, bar mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, and then I started doing the pop-up stuff. I was doing Broadway Bites, and I was doing all the different fairs. Once those were working out, we {Matt and his wife Rachal} left the city and we moved to Jersey City. I opened the store. The location’s great. It has a food scene and at the same time, you can bounce right over to Manhattan real quick [Cryo Cream’s] somewhere for me to be creative and experiment and do things. 

HG: There’s Torico, Milk and Cream Cereal Bar, Ample Hills Creamery among other ice cream shops in Jersey City. What makes Cryo Cream different?

MM: Like if you go to a bar or a brewery, there are levels to things and expectations. You have memories of that one favorite neighborhood bar when you were a kid or pizzeria, and that’s something I think it really is when you come into the store. It’s a different product. I do very interesting flavors. I don’t think [the others] do bone marrow [flavor] or wine poached cherry [flavor] or anything weird like that, but I can do that because I do it on TV. At the same time, because I have a fine-dining background, I’m used to doing savory a lot. So I kind of have the street cred to pull off certain things, it’s mostly performance art.

HG: What are some of Cryo Cream’s top sellers?

MM: Glam fire {a modern take on s’mores flavor} is always the number one. For Christmas, it was the first time I’d taken it off of the menu ever because I switched it to that naughty list one {gingerbread ice cream, gingerbread cookie, chocolate whipped cream, and chocolate syrup injector}. It was funny I always said people would kill me if I took the glam fire off. And then the munchie madness kills it too {chocolate ice cream, brownie, cookie crumbs, chantilly whipped cream, and caramel syrup injector}. I mean the breakfast sandwiches have really been killing it. A croissant sandwich is pretty typical, but I make the croissant from scratch, I cook the egg in a terrine mold. It’s all layered and stuff and so weird, and then we throw duck fat hash browns. Everything’s a playoff of fast foodstuff I liked as a kid, I do get really excited.

cryo cream jersey city ice cream shop

{Photo credit: @jc_upfront}

HG: You come up with a lot of creative ideas. What is your background?

MM: I went to school for pastry and then from there I went the fine dining route. I was working in New York City’s coolest kitchens at the moment. You know working with the best chefs in the world makes you better, so I was following that route, and then eventually I got to the Michelin level. Whenever I worked in fine dining, when I was creating menus, I wasn’t really loving using people’s ice cream. I didn’t feel like it was a product that was good enough. A [way] to work around it is to have a little tank of nitrogen you refill it every two, three days and you can basically make ice cream to order every single time. I taught my pastry team how to do that, and through service, we would constantly make ice cream with nitrogen in the back. That lead to “hey this would be a cool idea.” That was the idea for liquid nitrogen ice cream. I basically ran the company out of the back of my Jeep for the first year I had it. 

HG: Has business been affected by the pandemic?

MM: I have a lot of locals, a lot of regulars, so that’s good. I get to see people and run cool ideas with them. It’s really hard because most of my business wasn’t the store itself events, markets, places where there are tons of people. I did the window unveiling with John Legend last year in Manhattan so I [catered to] 2,000 people in the middle of Macy’s it was insane. That’s my bread and butter those are the cool things. I do like 300-400 [people] weddings. I mean damn, 90 percent of my business was events.

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HG: Any other celebrities you got to work with?

MM: I was the executive pastry chef at Soho House in Manhattan so I mean my celebrity list goes on and on. Coolest people for myself I think James Franco and Seth Rogen were really cool. Jay Z and Beyonce I did their birthday party. They were really cool. Raven Symoné was awesome. She was on Holiday Wars. She’s funny really, really funny and an awesome person.

cryo cream jersey city sundaes

{Photo credit: @cryocream}

HG: Has your wife Rachal been super supportive during this time? Does she work with you as well?

MM: My wife does all the marketing, which is absolutely amazing. She wears way too many hats, but she kills it. Thank God I have her because I do the production, cleaning the store up, [all the] day-to-day, but she does all of my Instagram and she handles all of the business aspects of it. 

HG: You have a baby girl at home as well. Tell us about her.

MM: Yes, my 10-month-old {daughter Madelyn}. Her whole life has been chartered on Food Network. On Holiday Baking Championship, I had just proposed to my wife. On Girl Scout Cookie Championship, I had just found out she was pregnant so they put a sonogram picture up. And on the last episode of Holiday Wars, they put {Madelyn’s} picture up with me holding her, so I got her on TV the whole time from conception to an actual person!

HG: What’s next for you? Can we expect to see you on another Food Network show?

MM: There’s a possibility I’ll return to the Food Network in the future. I have a problem I need to win [and] put Food Network Champion next to my name. You do the first one and when you’re that close and you can kind of taste it, it becomes obsessive [and] I keep taking more and more. But I love them for it!

For more information on Cryo Cream, visit the website found here and be sure to follow the shop on Instagram and Facebook for special announcements and new flavors.

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